The Wolf of Sarajevo. Matthew Palmer. Penguin Group (USA). May 2016. 400 pp. ISBN#: 9780399175015.
Few people remember the horrific Srebrenica massacre but the aftermath of that tragedy continues to haunt an unending conflict among Serbs, Croatians and Bosnians. Eric Petrosian lost a good friend, Meho Alimerovic, in that war and now he’s back on a mission to find out what the Bosnian leader is up to twenty years after Srebrenica. Eric is serving at the American Embassy in the Balkans. He has heard that the Bosnian Serb leader, who had sworn to live and influence his country toward peace, is now back to his old violent acts. Another war is looming, a continuation of hundreds of years of ethnic hatred.
Why is Zoran Dimitrovic turning to activities that will build and eventually explode in more war and ethnic cleansing? It turns out that another Mafia connected leader, Marko Barcelona, interested in only money and power, has some evidence that could turn Zoran Dimitrovic from a leader into a prisoner before a war tribunal trial.
Eric is approached by a former lover and now EUO diplomat, Annika Sondergaard, who knows that Eric has connections and in-roads that she can never hope to match. She begs him to become involved in finding out the reason for Dimitrovic’s change of heart.
The rest of the story is a historical thriller that probes the history of this conflict and an international thriller as Eric and Annika get closer and closer to the truth of the matter which just might put a halt on more pain and historical tragedy. For every decent act of these two investigators are other rabid characters who love to kill, who love the hunt for the sake of the violence, and those who love to enter the fray to increase the already simmering tensions waiting for the spark that will inflame the area into new civil war.
Matthew Palmer has his finger on the pulse of Balkan history and a keen understanding of the major personalities literally creating history in this part of Eastern Europe. The reader has to pay close attention, however, to keep pace with all the different names and which group each belongs to. Succeeding in that endeavor, the reader will enjoy this fast-paced, somewhat stereotypical, but all too real battle for the future of this part of the world. Very good historical fiction for sure!